Dee is a girl who lived with her mom and her sister Maggie, but she wasn’t like them at all, she was different than her sister and her mother. Mama was collecting money to take Dee to school in Augusta. Dee liked to be fashionable, she always wanted nice things.
Alice Walker’s Everyday Use (rpt. in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine’s Literature Sound and Structure 11th ed [Boston: Wadsworth, 2012] 166-173) is a short story told by the mother of two daughters, Mama. The story tells the tale of the return of Mama’s oldest daughter, Dee, and the problems that Dee’s return causes for Mama and her youngest daughter, Maggie. This short story includes humor and irony, displays detailed characterization, and portrays a very effective point of view. These three literary elements contribute to this story by giving insight into the past and the true personalities of the characters, and the way the characters have changed over time.
Most people have had some fight or disagreement with a member of their family. Some might say it is natural for families to argue, but sometimes the reasons behind them are much more substantial than they might appear at first glance. The short story “Everyday Use” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker deals a situation like this (Kirszner and Mandell 344). Walker feels strongly about people reconnecting with their heritage; in fact, she retook her maiden name three years into her marriage to honor her great great great grandmother (Kirszner and Mandell 344). When reading “Everyday Use” her opinions on ancestry and family are evident. Also, similar to how Walker changed her name, a character in the story changes her name, but for the
Dee’s transformation is more external than it is internal. She shows her transformation in the way she speaks, the clothes she wears, and her judgement. Mama’s transformation is more internal. She begins to see Dee’s real thoughts, and she stands up against her. When she takes the quilts away from Dee, she doesn’t only stand up for herself, but Maggie, as
The comparison of characters is something an author allows us to do while reading a
“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker is a short story containing a first-person point of view, narrated by the mother in the story. “The mother” is not named in the story, yet holds an important role in being the protagonist while also incorporating vital details of the characters’ emotions, views, and ideas of each other. The narrator tells the audience everything she knows about the other two main characters, giving the audience insight on how to view these characters in the story. Walker does a great job using two specific literary elements in “Everyday Use” to pinpoint the story’s theme. In “Everyday Use”, Walker develops the theme of the importance of Christ-like behavior by unifying these literary elements: point of view and characterization.
Alice Walker wrote what Mama said about Dee or Wangero, “Dee wanted nice things.” Mama describes Dee as a lavish person who is only interested in herself and her fulfilling’s. Dee had changed her name to show that she is not accepting that a “white person” named her ancestors in way, so it can be passed down. Walker describes Mama as someone who is satisfied with what they have. “I will wait for her in the yard that Maggie and I made so clean and wavy yesterday afternoon,” Walker demonstrates how Mama is pleased with nature where her life takes place in.
While the narrator is describing herself as she actually is rather than Dee's expectations, she mentions, "I am a big-boned woman with rough man-working hands" (59). The mother's explanation of herself shows that she accepts herself and her heritage, while Dee believes her heritage is from making objects ornamental. This discloses that the mother is proud of who she is and where she comes
Heritage; is a great value that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is of great value and although it can be worth very little to other people, to your family it is priceless. Alice Walker wrote the story, “Everyday Use”, to show an importance of Mama’s and Maggie’s heritage. There is also Dee who has that heritage too, but she thinks that they of no good use and think they are not important. Also in “Everyday Use “Mama and Maggie have Family Conflicts with Dee. The family conflict ties up with the heritage because Dee thinks very little about the valued things in her family, but Maggie and Mama thinks highly of them and they want to put them to great
Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” illustrates Dee’s struggle for identity by placing her quest for a new identity against her family’s desire for maintaining culture and heritage. In the beginning, the narrator, who is the mother of Dee, mentions some details about Dee; how she “...wanted nice things… She was determined to stare down any disaster in her efforts… At sixteen, she had a style of her own: and (she) knew what style was.” Providing evidence to the thesis, she was obviously trying exceptionally hard to find for herself a sense of identity. She wanted items her family couldn’t afford, so she worked hard to gain these, and she found a sense of identity from them, but it also pushed her farther away from her family. As the story progresses,
“Everyday Use” is one of the most popular stories by Alice Walker. The issue that this story raises is very pertinent from ‘womanist’ perspective. The term, in its broader sense, designates a culture specific form of woman-referred policy and theory. ‘womanism’ may be defined as a strand within ‘black feminism’. As against womansim, feminist movement of the day was predominately white-centric. A womanist is one who expresses a certain amount of respect for woman and their talent and abilities beyond the boundaries of race and class. “Everyday Use” can be seen as a literary representation of this concept. “Everyday Use” is a story of a mother and her two daughters- Dee and Maggie.
Dee has also changed her overall appearance and has recreated a new image for herself by wearing brightly colored clothing and changing her voice. Critic of the story, David Cowart, describes Dee changes, “She now styles and dresses herself according to the dictates of a faddish Africanism and thereby demonstrates a cultural Catch-22: an American who attempts to become an African succeeds only in becoming a phony” (Cowart). She alienates herself from her original culture and values the items from her past
It also shows that she is having a hard time without a husband. She was doing the father and the mother job in the same time. Education was one of the main reasons that separated Dee from her family. Education make her loss the sense of heritage and the love of her family and also the school made Dee prefer modern life than the one she was